Kids Watching Porn? It Happens More Than You Think

Lately, there have been a few articles published warning that erectile dysfunction meds like Viagra are being prescribed to younger men. When this pill first debuted, everyone assumed it was to help men of a certain age continue to enjoy a sex life. They probably didn’t anticipate young people in their early 20s using it too.

 

Don’t be misled. This isn’t recreational drug use. This is happening because younger men are experiencing difficulties maintaining an erection during normal intercourse. The question is, “Why?”

 

12 yo childen compositionWe live in a world where even children now have effortless access to hardcore pornography. Whether they stumble upon it by accident, or seek it out due to curiosity, the end result is the same: a child ends up exposed to pornographic images and videos long before they are ready to handle them properly.

 

So the question then becomes, what are we teaching our kids?

 

Sex is a basic need, in the same way that eating and sleeping are basic needs. This means that children will begin to consider sexual feelings a “big deal” even before they understand what those feelings are. Speaking to kids about sex can feel awkward — so much so that many parents put off these necessary conversations until it’s too late. By the time kids are given “the talk,” either by caregivers or schools, they may have already formed lasting impressions based on the wrong information.

 

Parents have a responsibility to emotionally prepare their children for these realities of life, without shaming them. When I see stories about young men — who by all accounts should be at their sexual prime — experiencing the same difficulties encountered by men 60 years older than them, I worry for them. I wonder if they ever had positive role models modeling intimacy and mutual respect.

 

In my practice, I work with sex and porn addicts. Although not everyone identifies this way, I have come to realize that we are all addicted to sex to a certain degree. You may never try drugs, alcohol or other addictive substances in your entire life, but chances are pretty good that you will have a sexual experience. The feelings that come along with that experience can provide massive positive feedback to a developing brain — but there’s still a lot of context that needs to be in place.

 

More and more, young people are experiencing sexual feelings for the first time when they discover porn on the internet. The images might scare them, excite them or confuse them. Recently, I had this demonstrated to me concretely when I received a call from an 11-year-old.

 

This remarkable young person was self-possessed enough to recognize that he needed to speak to an adult to process his feelings, but also experienced enough to know that he wouldn’t get a good reaction from his parents.

 

Naturally, this phone call shocked me in ways I wasn’t prepared for, even after years of helping men with sex and porn addictions. I was able to talk to the youngster’s mother, and later on in the day, his father. We had an open and frank discussion about the fact that their child was already viewing porn online, but had no context in which to place it. Their 11-year-old child was on the threshold of puberty, but had never been given any guidance pertaining to sexuality.

 

This sort of thing is a wake up call to the modern world. If you avoid the sex talk with your children, if they have access to porn at a young age, they wind up seeing people as sex objects. They have no idea what intimacy or romantic love is; instead, they only know sex. More to the point, they only know the over-produced scenes featuring athletic, adult entertainers performing all manner of feats as “sex.”

 

This brings us back to my original point. What on earth would cause a healthy young man to require erectile dysfunction medication?

 

It’s because his sexual encounters with real live woman don’t register as “sex” anymore. When he’s so used to seeing woman as sex objects — as things — how can he expect to feel the same way about a real person? Real people have personalities, aspirations, likes, dislikes, hopes and dreams. Porn actors have body parts. This is where the concept of “sexuality” as depicted in porn falls apart in the real world.

 

For young people, one of our roles as adults is to model healthy and respectful relationships. Intimacy and sex are two very different things. If your child has no frame of reference for the former, he will default to the latter.

 

I can hope I never get another call from a confused and terrified child, but the world isn’t always that fair. If you are concerned that your own issues with intimacy, sex or porn might be affecting your children, I urge you to reach out right away. There is still time to become a positive role model, and to get some valuable perspective on your own feelings as well.

 

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